EXCLUSIVE Biden’s emergency board calls for railroad wage hikes to resolve contract talks

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US President Joe Biden walks to Air Force One as he departs for Washington, DC, from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, US, Aug. 16, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES, Aug. 16 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden’s emergency council is tasked with helping major freight railroads and unions end a deadlock over contract negotiations proposed Tuesday for annual wage increases of between 4% and 7% through 2024, according to a report seen by Reuters.

The board of directors, in its 119-page report to be made public as early as Wednesday, recommended a retroactive 3% increase for 2020 and 3.5% for 2021, when the railway workers were not contracted, along with five annual bonuses. of $1,000 and an additional paid day off.

Talks between major freight railroads, including Union Pacific (UNP.N), Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N), BNSF and CSX (CSX.O), and unions representing 115,000 workers have lasted more than two years.

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Railroads move items ranging from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) packages to heating oil and soybeans. A lockout or strike could soar supplies prices and turn battered U.S. supply chains upside down ahead of the midterm elections that will determine whether Biden’s Democratic party has limited control over the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The report’s proposal represents a 22% nominal wage increase over the five-year period, the report said. The board said it aimed to “act as honest brokers and recommend terms of an agreement that are fair and reasonable”.

Other recommendations include removing the cap on employees’ monthly health care contributions so that it equals 15% of the total cost of plans to provide covered benefits, and jointly renegotiating contracts to make sure ensure current costs are competitive.

Earlier, the White House expressed optimism about reaching a deal.

“The president is optimistic that the report will provide a good framework for successful negotiations between the parties over the next 30 days,” the official said, adding that the recommendations have been made to the White House and the parties.

Biden appointed the three-member presidential emergency council in July to ease transportation-related disruptions that fuel inflation and threaten food and fuel supplies.

Work stoppages are prohibited for 30 days after the issuance of the Presidential Emergency Council (PEB) report to give the two sides time to reach a voluntary settlement. If employers or unions reject the council’s recommendations, Congress can intervene.

“To avoid a national shutdown of the track, it is in the nation’s interest that the parties reach a solution quickly,” the White House official said.

The unions and railway groups involved in the talks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rail transport in major US seaports has recently suffered from increasing supply chain constraints and labor and equipment shortages. read more

“It is in the interest of all stakeholders that the parties enter into agreements that provide our employees with a well-deserved pay rise and avoid disruptions to rail services,” Union Pacific said in a statement.

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Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Chris Reese, Matthew Lewis, Aurora Ellis and Richard Chang

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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